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September 1997

9/30/97 – We had very high winds yesterday. The few parties returning reported tales reminiscent of high seas adventures. Dan Kato and his fellow co-workers returned soggy but in good spirits. I’m not sure if they are just generally cheerful or if blustery, rainy weather is a welcome alternative to work!
As the customers become scarce, our work begins to change. We start doing inventory, a counting nightmare, and cleaning up the campgrounds. Counting is for the cold, rainy days and we get into the campgrounds on the blue, crisp, golden days. We shovel the fire grates and occasionally are treated to the sighting of a blue spotted salamander. Such a beautiful creature, it is cool rubbery black except for sky blue spots on the belly and sides. Amongst the ash and molten aluminum cans, it is a glowing gem.

9/29/97 – Hurricane Toivo has struck the north country. We had high winds and pouring rain overnight. .47" is the most rain we’ve had at one time in a long while. The barometer is also the lowest of the season. It really isn’t that bad, just a big contrast to the beautiful weather we’ve been having.

9/28/97 – I had a lovely paddle on Alton Lake the other night. As the sun was setting on yet another beautiful Fall day, I realized the lake was alive with tullibees. All over the calm surface of the lake tullibees were rising and taking small flies (where was my fly rod!) Tullibees are a small whitefish. They are silver and run about 1 to 1.5 pounds. Their gentle splashing combined with Autumn’s glory and the salmon sky left me spellbound. As I dipped my paddle into the cool clear water of Alton lake, I felt the burden of another hectic season lift. I’m so grateful to those who were wise enough to leave Alton Lake in such a state that I can hear the tullibees. Our debt to them is to be sure the BWCAW can continue to work its subtle magic on generations to come.

9/27/97 – There are about 50 members of the Brook Park 7th Day Adventist Church in Minneapolis on the Sawbill Campground this weekend. They are a very quiet group and have been enjoying hiking and canoeing in the beautiful Fall colors.

9/26/97 – The perfect Fall day here at Sawbill. The sky is deep blue, the lake a mirror, and the forest is aflame with color. The chipmunks are frantic in there storage of seeds. Juncos, small grey sparrow-like birds, have returned from their arctic summer homes. Today will be a busy day, as many people take advantage of the gorgeous weekend.

9/24/97 – It has been an eventful couple of days. Ed Erickson, long time Sawbill camper, got lost while grouse hunting yesterday. He walked into the woods at 10 a. m. and was reported missing by his partner at around 3 P. M. While the sheriff started mobilizing search and rescue, John Oberholtzer and Bill Hansen headed out to make a quick search before nightfall. Bill followed Ed’s tracks and OB drove into another old logging road that runs north of the search area. At about 5:30 Bill and OB were close enough to each other to hear each other’s shouts, but still no sign of Ed. Both turned back with heavy hearts to meet the rescue squad. Back tracking on the logging road Obie was thrilled to see Ed, tired and dirty, waiting for him. The rescue squad was cancelled and Ed gratefully returned to his campsite for a well earned rest.

When not rescuing people, the Sawbill crew has been visiting with canoe manufacturers. Mike Cichanowski, owner of Wenonah Canoe and Kay Henry, owner of Mad River Canoe have both visited in the last two days. Safe to say you will be seeing more canoes from both of these fine companies at Sawbill next year.

9/22/97 – Another glorious Fall day. The colors just keep getting better. Yesterday, Steve O’Neil from Duluth dropped off a wallet he and his son found behind a campsite on Sawbill. The fine leather wallet had been extensively chewed by mice, but still contained driver’s license, credit cards, etc, – all dated 1995! We looked up the name on the Internet and left a phone message for the owner. Imagine his surprise after two years.

We received an unusual phone call yesterday from a local man who found a goat while fishing on Ball Club Lake in the BWCAW. He said the goat is wearing a collar and is very friendly. He was calling around to see if anyone had reported a goat missing. He took the goat home and has found a good home for it if the owner can’t be located.

Speaking of phones, one of our radio-telephones broke down on Saturday morning. This leaves us with just one frail link to the outside world, so have patience if you are trying to call us. We hope to have it repaired as soon as possible.

9/21/97 – Favorite Sawbill crew member Adam Hansen is 17 years old today. You can email him a birthday greeting at: 1997 SFGA Masters Champ, Adam Hansen. Frost on the pumpkin last night. Another Hansen, Clare, age 9, has actually managed to grow a few pumpkins during this drought season. They are about the size of softballs and still green, but hope springs eternal. With a high temp of 51 degrees and a brisk north wind yesterday, folks were scurrying around in winter jackets with bright red noses poking out of wool hats and hoods. The same temperatures in April would have found us all in sweatshirts and sunglasses.

9/20/97 – September arrived with a chill this morning. Slate grey clouds are scooting across the sun. The air has the chill of a snow line that is not too far north now. The last of the summer Sawbill crew left today. We are down to the core of veterans for the Fall season now.

9/18/97 – We had only one group come off the trail yesterday. The shower house had only one wet towel in the hamper this morning. The trees are about 25% turned to yellow and red now. There is a lot of green especially in the canopy. The underbrush is more than half turned. Moose sightings are becoming more common as the bulls start to get a little crazy. Randy Hermanson and Dan Horita from the Twin Cities had a young bull come right into their campsite on Sawbill – three times. They also reported good fishing, except yesterday, when it was too windy to go out.

9/16/97 – The sky is dark and threatening this morning and the radar map shows some heavy thunderstorms headed this way. We are hopeful for lots of rain and little lightning. The parking lot has the least cars since May, although judging from the reservation file, it will be be a busy weekend. Last night, we went down to the landing to watch the mirror smooth lake steam under a full moon, but were distracted by the moose crashing and splashing on the opposite shoreline.

9/15/97 – We had a great visit from John and Kari Halvorson of Luster, Norway. John worked for us between 1969 and 1976. Kari worked for us during the summer of ’76. John is originally from Minneapolis. He met Kari while visiting relatives in Norway in 1975. After their summer at Sawbill in ’76 they moved back to Norway where they have farmed sheep, strawberries and raspberries ever since. They brought their 15 year old son, Hans, who is a great email pal of our 15 year old Ruthie Hansen. It was fun for them to meet after a year of frequent email correspondence. John was able to point out to us all the changes in equipment and the physical plant since 1976.

John Oberholtzer is back from Washington saying "Its good to be back!" John and Patti had a good experience lobbying on behalf of wilderness protection. Although they feel like they made some progress, it is a very scary year in congress for the BWCA Wilderness. Clearly, there are some congresspersons who dearly wish to set a precedent of slowly chipping away at the entire wilderness preservation system, starting with the Boundary Waters Wilderness. Please contact your representative (see below) and ask them not to degrade the BWCA Wilderness in any way.

The Oberstar BWCA Bill, which reintroduces trucks into the BWCA Wilderness and expands outboard motor use, H. R. 1739, passed the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health on October 7th. Now is the time to contact your Congressperson (U. S. House of Representatives) and urge them not to degrade the BWCA Wilderness.

The Grams Bill, S. 783, (the Senate companion to the Oberstar Bill mentioned above) passed out of committee in the Senate on 7/30/97.

Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) introduced the third BWCA Wilderness bill of the season, "The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Expansion, Protection, and Access Act of 1997" – S.1085, on Tuesday, July 29th. Press Release, details, etc. from Senator Wellstone’s Office

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Legacy Act, authored by Bruce Vento (D-MN), is the best BWCA Wilderness bill of this confusing legislative season. Unfortunately, it has almost no chance of passing with the key committees controlled by anti-wilderness legislators. Vento is a senior Democrat on the key committees and will be in a position to pass a bill like this if the congress returns to Democratic control. Full Text of H.R.2149 "The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Legacy Act"

Please take a moment to tell these gentlemen that wilderness
protection is important to you.

Senator Rod Grams

257 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

(202) 224-3244

(202) 228-0956 (FAX)

Congressman James Oberstar

2366 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-6211

FAX: (202) 225-0699

You can find your congressperson’s address, phone #, and email
address at: The U. S. House of
Representatives Home Page.

The Senators are all available through
The U. S. Senate Home Page.

Sawbill Outfitters is a proud member of
Northeastern Minnesotans For
which is working to organize the many people who
support the wilderness and happen to live in northeastern Minnesota.
Visit their site for more information on the controversy and what you
can do to help protect the BWCA Wilderness.

Email us at if
you have any questions on permits, routes or anything else.